On September 30, Doncaster, England was abuzz with over 200 serviced accommodation professionals from across the United Kingdom, Europe and the United States. The group congregated for Touchstone Education’s Serviced Accommodation Conference & Awards, held at one of the oldest established centers for horseracing in Britain, Doncaster Racecourse. The event included a full day of education, along with a black-tie gala dinner and awards evening.
Top conference presentations
Paul Smith, a best-selling author, speaker, real estate investor, and co-founder of Diamond Serviced Apartments and Touchstone Education, kicked off the event. In his presentation, Paul covered best industry practices and announced the launch of an exciting new business development—the launch of the Serviced Accommodation Alliance. This is a new industry body for everyone involved with the running of serviced accommodation. That includes owner-occupiers, investors, agents and property managers and owners globally.
Matthew Hoffman, Division Vice President at Kigo, then shared the story of Kigo, including where the company began and how it has developed into what it is today. In his presentation, Hoffman shared recommendations on how to overcome common industry challenges and accelerate business growth.
Another conference highlight was a presentation from Terrie Payne, Booking Home Partner Manager at Booking.com. This included recommendations on marketing properties on the channel. Attendees heard tips on taking professional photos, increasing their review score, and gaining visibility.
Conference attendees also had the opportunity to hear from an esteemed panel of industry leaders who answered their top questions and provided advice from their own careers. The panel consisted of:
Steve Rice, Director and Co-Owner of Diamond Venture Partners Ltd
Samantha Saunders, Operations Managers at Diamond Serviced Apartments
Paul Smith, Co-founder of Diamond Serviced Apartments and Touchstone Education
Matthew Hoffman, Division Vice President of Kigo
Terrie Payne, Booking Home Partner Manager at Booking.com
After an action-packed day of learning, attendees gathered for an evening of celebration and entertainment. The black-tie gala and awards ceremony was truly an ideal way to wrap up the event, and awards were given to Touchstone employees, students and partners.
The first round of awards were given to staff members in Touchstone’s Doncaster and Scotland offices, with colleagues deciding on the winners of these awards through an anonymous ballot. Awards were also given to top Touchstone students and mentors. Kigo received an award that honored the company as a preferred partner of Touchstone and recognized its role in advancing industry education.
New educational opportunities
As a preferred partner, Kigo is working with Touchstone Education to build out training resources for industry professionals.
“We’re delighted to be in partnership with Kigo and look forward to strengthening our relationship even further in the future. It’s a win-win relationship” said Aniko Smith, Co-founder of Touchstone Education.
Touchstone currently offers three serviced accommodation-focused courses—Masterclass, Mastermind and the recently launched Elite. Masterclass is an intensive two-day event that serves as an introduction to the industry. After completing this course, students can expand their knowledge through Mastermind, an advanced course where students develop and improve upon their business plans over the course of six months or more. Each student is part of a peer team and works with a mentor to support their growth. Elite is an exclusive program, open to 10-12 students at a time. Those accepted onto the course spend 12 months working closely alongside Touchstone Education founders, Paul and Aniko Smith, to become experts in their chosen business niche.
In addition to the launch of the Serviced Accommodation Alliance, Touchstone has plans to launch a new Commercial Club, additional Masterclass and Mastermind courses, and a podcast. The company has trained over 2,000 serviced accommodation professionals to date, and has plans to increase this number dramatically in the coming years.
There’s no doubt that big things are ahead for Touchstone. We look forward to our continued partnership, and working together to provide new educational opportunities for industry professionals. Stay tuned for more updates!